How to decide when/if a tenant has abandoned

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    How to decide when/if a tenant has abandoned

    Not sure what my position is (as landlord) with regard to this complex situation.

    Needed to entirely metal-shutter the property last week. It had been totally wrecked, all windows smashed and tenant hospitalised with serious injuries. Not for the first time. Police know who by but need solid evidence (tenant too afraid) to consider prosecuting. Tenant discharged himself from hospital and has now gone to ground, no forwarding address and not responding to contact calls.

    In fear for his life - he's neither thug nor low-life but a quiet, vulnerable victim. His belongings still in house, including a significant quantity of work tools. Letting agent, social services - no-one has any idea where he has gone or how long he'll be gone for.

    What are the various courses of action open to me? How do I stand if tenant tries to get in and can't? It being shuttered is obviously protecting his belongings, but he can't access it.

    I have no wish to make his life any worse than it obviously is, and made it clear a while ago I'm happy to work with him if he wants to move on swiftly, but I'm not in a hurry to attempt to re-let, cost of repairs will run to £000k - yes, it is insured but there are no guarantees it won't happen again immediately, so it's likely best left shuttered for the time being.

    "Abandoned" isn't really going to help.

    You want the tenant to serve notice or to offer to surrender the tenancy.
    Or you can serve notice yourself, go to court, hope to be successful and then repossess with bailiffs.

    In theory, you've already illegally evicted the tenant by excluding them from the property (I sympathise that you had no choice).

    The tenancy is currently ongoing, rent is due etc.
    When I post, I am expressing an opinion - feel free to disagree, I have been wrong before.
    Please don't act on my suggestions without checking with a grown-up (ideally some kind of expert).


      Thanks for swift reply. That was where the letting agents and I were with it until this most recent event - that he volunteered surrender of the tenancy and I'd write off the arrears.

      The fact that he's disappeared now has complicated things, but seems from what you say that if his absence continues then it'll have to be the court and bailiff route. There's plenty of documented evidence of my ongoing willingness to be supportive.

      He does have phone details of the agent and myself so it's not like he cannot make contact. He's just choosing not to.


        Write to him at the property address.
        It might get through.

        Point out that you need him to surrender the tenancy (he can just drop the keys off at the letting agent to do that), otherwise he'll keep owing you rent (which you can't afford to lose) and will then get lumbered with the court costs as well.
        When I post, I am expressing an opinion - feel free to disagree, I have been wrong before.
        Please don't act on my suggestions without checking with a grown-up (ideally some kind of expert).


          Sadly, anything posted won't be picked up as the house is (well, it should be) impossible to get into, and his mental condition deteriorated to the point that he has not been able to think rationally - rabbit in the headlights - but he has been gently apprised of all those facts. Sometimes someone's fear is ALL they can see.


            I think that you should fix a notice to the door addressed to the tenant stating that you have secured the property and that access can be obtained by contacting you or the agent at <addresses/phone numbers>.
            That should count in your favour should an illegal eviction claim be made.


              I agree with MdeB. Can you use the letting agent's address? You don't want the thugs coming round to your house.


                That was done... it disappeared. The agent isn't getting their monthly fee without incoming rent and there's only so much I can ask them to do gratis on a daily checking basis. I'm a three hour + drive away. The police *say* they check regularly, but...


                  If I were you, I would get a possession order for the property, put the T's belongings in storage (if you think the T will come back for it), fix the property using the insurance money and sell it (if you don't want to re-let it), as the longer you leave it the more likely chances of you getting squatters in (especially if you can't monitor the property). Either you or the T will being accumulating costs - Gas/Electricity/ water, Council Tax.


                    Thank you for the input, and I don't mean to sound negative but:- I don't intend to become liable for indefinite storage costs on behalf of the tenant - with a probable ccj to my name if/when I stop paying! Negative equity to the tune of probably 100% means selling out of the question. Insurance claim possible but highly unwise - premiums on entire portfolio would likely significantly rise. As long as the tenant still has a valid tenancy then he remains liable for all bills. I think that if this does end up in court, then it's easily provable that we have had his best interests at heart and are protecting his property as best as we can, whilst I'm also covering my business back as best I can.

                    I am grateful to all for this sounding-board-conversation - it's highlighting options/ideas and providing me with a useful funnel, thank you. 15 years in the business, and this particular experience is a first for me.


                      You can either clear his stuff into storage then re-let and presumably significantly higher rent than storage costs (and no longer pay council tax, electric etc...) or just get no rent, pay council tax, electric etc etc..

                      I know what I'd do... But, hey, free country
                      I am legally unqualified: If you need to rely on advice check it with a suitable authority - eg a solicitor specialising in landlord/tenant law...


                        Seems a false economy to me, having an empty property not generating any income on a monthly basis, as apposed to put his belongings into storage for a month and then you have the right to dispose of it. You still need to fix the property therefore regardless your insurance premium is still going up (unless you don't claim and the cost of repair is small, which by what you have written previously doesn't sound cheap). The T is still liable for all costs until you finally evict him., the process for a court order takes months, when you do finally decide to do it (which you will have to, unless the T comes back), you'll have to factor in 3-5 months for that process. But it's your property and you know best after all.


                          NB If you do clear/move his stuff take LOADS of photos, ideally date/time-stamped.
                          I am legally unqualified: If you need to rely on advice check it with a suitable authority - eg a solicitor specialising in landlord/tenant law...


                            Originally posted by theartfullodger View Post
                            NB If you do clear/move his stuff take LOADS of photos, ideally date/time-stamped.
                            Unless you use a very old camera, the images will be date and time stamped, just not directly visible in the image.


                              OK - here're the figures (some accurate, some not so sure) be interested to see what others *would* do. Rent £325 pcm. It's a very challenging area with repeated and frequent problems locally. 15 years ago, the area was due for redevelopment. It never happened. That was right in the middle of Blair's government.

                              CT when I've had to pay it during previous voids is £110pcm. I would fight LA tooth and nail if they tried to up it to 150%. In a Selective License area, I was one of the earlier landlords to register. Being licensed has been an abject joke. Mortgage is £120 pcm. Insurance is £138pa.

                              Utilities normal standing charges while empty. Storage - not sure but when I personally stored half a dozen bankers boxes of documents years ago, it cost me £15pw back then. Contents of a *very* full 3 bed house? I dunno - what is someone's approximation?

                              Cost of repairing the damage and securing the back garden from intruders (timber fence no deterrent - replaced it three times last year) probably £5-6k

                              Likelihood of all that being trashed within days of it being finished (if it got that far) - probably 90-95%.

                              Does it *really* now seem like false economy to metal-shutter it up and just leave it? Trust me - the idea of doing that does go against EVERYTHING I believe in and have worked hard to achieve over the years. It's a very bitter pill to swallow, but swallow it I must if that genuinely is the only logical way forward for now.


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